As the NYTimes shakes its tiny fists and wails in rage over the fact that Caroline Kennedy didn’t get s Senate appointment, it is simultaneously revealing its true nature and why it is bleeding so much in revenue as the years go by. It’s not that it’s a liberal paper, although they are certainly more left leaning than the Washington Post. And it’s not that it’s too difficult for readers to absorb. The paper seems to be written at the right level.
The problem is that there is a complete disconnect between the editors and its target audience. Readers aren’t stupid or less literate. But they are a lot more savvy these days and can tell when they’re being condescended to. Gail Collins goes out of her way to blame everyone in her editorial this morning and take some ungracious swipes at Kirsten Gillibrand because Gillibrand is a real politician who attempts to get votes at rallies where she might influence a voter or two. Horrors! In the refined world of the New York Times, a politician should *never* have to court the voters. Her family name and the policies she was born with should be sufficient bona fides for the voters who should listen to their betters and vote for her. After all, wasn’t that what the last primary season was all about? The powers that be, a group to which no one WE know belongs, shall pick the winner and voters will go along with it. All that primary campaigning was just window dressing to make voters feel like they still have choices.
Read Collins’ column. It almost reads as parody. She asks, “…in a state chock-full of distinguished residents, it was so hard to scrounge up Hillary’s replacement?” Indeed, NY is full to bursting with distinguished residents. Unfortunately for Collins, Lawrence O’Donnell and a bunch of other name dropping snobs, what Paterson was looking for was a person who actually liked politics, the people in the state and winning elections.
I think we are reaching a tipping point here. What we now see is that we have here a class of people who are shaping opinion and running the country who hold the rest of us in utter contempt. To them, the actualities of living, working, raising children, acquiring healthcare, well that’s all theoretical. They will discuss it amongst themselves and think up pretty remedies that will not inconvenience them in the least. They will pat themselves on the back for all the a priori thought experiments and pass their results down to us as fiats. The vast unwashed masses who use our hands and minds to actually earn a living, the ones who find themselves on the posteriori end of these fiats, will have to do the best we can. And if any of us decide that we want to succeed in politics so that we can make an actual difference, we can be sure we will be derided for getting our hands dirty at state fairs, rallies and parades where we may have to mix with the common man.
They were being truthful when they said their hatred of Hillary had nothing to do with sexism. Of course it didn’t. They don’t think of themselves as sexists. Well, ok, so they indulged a little in order to get Barack Obama elected but that’s just because they wanted him to win. It wasn’t sexism. No, the reason Hillary was the old Tracy Flick, while Kirsten Gillibrand is the new Tracy Flick, is because she actually was one of those overachieving ambitious common people who wanted the votes of other commoners. Like they matter. What Barack Obama’s election has shown us is that the only people who matter are the ones you flatter and try to emulate. So, I imagine Obama went out of his way to behave like the snobs at the Times and the Washington Post. What Obama’s election tells us is that snobbery works while Hillary was insufficiently deferential.
Of course, now he has to deal with the rank and file WH press corps and it’s giving him fits. But I’m sure that as soon as he figures out that he has to make some of them feel like they are part of some exclusive little club, they’ll come around. He’s already making some inroads there even if there is some initial whining. Give him time and some quail and they’ll be as right as rain and eating out of his hands.
Gov. David Paterson and Senator Gillibrand are going to have to kiss up to the powers that be if they want to get elected. It’s just that they *thought* those powers were, um, the people. But the only people that matter are the ones that own the mastheads.
Meanwhile, in Ms Kennedy Regrets, The New Yorker’s Larissa McFarquhar wrote what seems like the definitive explanation for Caroline’s demise: she realized she didn’t have it in her even though the courtiers around her were smitten with Camelot nostalgia. Thank you, Caroline. You may go now.